Dieting & Hiring Staff - What do they have in common ?



Yes a strange question is posed in the title above, but let me share a journey and an important analogy.  Around 85% of people have embarked on a diet of some sort during their lives. There are fast fad diets and there are lifestyle eating programs (and 100's of variances between).   Decisions to lose weight are mostly borne from either   aesthetic/vanity or  health reasons.   The desire to lose say 2-4 kgs  is  often easily achieved as it  may take only a  few weeks to shed those pesky  few kgs.  


Such small  weight loss goals generally fall into the  ‘nice to do’  vs  ‘must do’ category.Fitting into a favourite slinky dress or being able to comfortably wear the pants of a tailored suit is a nice little  motivator.

But when there is a substantial amount of weight to lose it becomes a serious health and lifestyle motivator and  crosses over into the   ‘must do’  vs   ‘nice to do’ category.   Back in 2009 I was 55kgs overweight so I write from deep personal experience here.   I used to struggle  to walk, breathe and enjoy life to the fullest and each day was a feat of endurance.  I hadn’t always been so obese though,  so I knew what it felt like to be within a normal weight range.   My personal weight loss story warrants a  blog or even a book in itself,  but suffice to say I had no choice in 2009 but to get  'real'  with myself and commit to losing those 55kgs over a long 12 month period (which I did and have kept off ever since with ongoing resolve and certainly some challenges).

Now by nature I am a pretty fast thinker, mover and doer – I love to make things happen.   So  ‘slow’  is a concept that  doesn’t often resonate well with me  (though long wine filled soirées and conversations with my husband & friends are some exceptions).   Mostly I want to see fairly rapid and tangible results for my efforts and to swiftly get to the heart and soul of problems so they can be resolved – be it personal or professional.    

So to lose a whopping 55kgs  I had to accept that this was not going to be a quick fix at all  and  that ‘fast’ was just not an option.  I had to totally re-frame my mindset and personality  predilection from a 'now'  to  ‘later’ perspective and focus on the   'long range prize' .

Tony Robbins teachings on the “Power of Leverage”    was a guiding light across understanding the ‘pain & pleasure’ concept.   He shows that  change can only occur once a persons  pain levels are far greater than their pleasure levels from a  situation or habit.  Humans are hardwired to avoid pain and maximise pleasure at all costs.  And to be brutally honest, the pain and hardship of being obese was far greater in so many respects than the pleasure of eating to excess and not exercising could ever be, and was.

So what does dieting have to do with hiring staff  ?    A great deal !

Whilst running my media recruitment agency between 2004 - 2015  I observed an upward and ongoing trend  of clients demanding a  ‘quick hiring fix’.  Over this period the digital (and other media) sectors boomed exponentially resulting in an explosion of new jobs to fulfil market  and sales needs.   But there just was not enough candidates to fill the roles and companies were often steadfast on having hires who could hit the ground running immediately with experience, skills and existing relationships etc.   Selection demands and  criterias  were often  unwavering and over zealous as such candidates were just not  in bountiful supply.    Reality would bite many times and yet many clients just did not want to commit to a medium, let alone long term development and training program for future results.    The upshot was roles were often left un-filled for anywhere up to 2- 6 months.   It was crazy stuff !

It seemed commercially illogical to wait for the ‘perfect quick fix candidate’  to hit the ground running as during such lengthy delays clients were losing potential sales and market opportunities.   The fallacy of a quick fix was indeed a revenue thwarting paradox.    Now horses for courses and to be fair, not all roles could, nor should have been filled with candidates without specific  levels of experience and skills.  But mostly I observed that around 65% could have been. But it required a shift of mindset from a quick fix to a training and development commitment to bring on talented people who had the makings of future stardom.    It also meant organisations had to re-align and re-evaluate resources (human & financial) to amplify a longer term  commercial benefit model.

Many ideal candidates ‘on paper'  and  ‘silver tongues’  at interview don’t always last the distance or deliver long term as many businesses have experienced.  There are many reasons for this of course,  but with a  ‘quick fix, instant tick of all the boxes’  hiring mandate, the likelihood of incongruity is higher.   Just as is seen in the photocopier  industry, sales people  frequently move from one brand to another -Ricoh one year, Xerox the next, Toshiba following.  They will bring along their bag of habits and networks of which some are great, some not so good and well,  some are totally disastrous.   I could certainly  write a book on the stories of  hindsight regret.

And just like the weight loss/diet  industry, underlying issues and bad habits commonly re-surface after a quick sprint and sizeable investment.  Quick fix solutions are often just not sustainable and dare I say,  frequently deceitful.  And so the cycle continues in weight loss endeavours and hiring attitudes.

The desire for a company to quickly alleviate their business is understandable but can  cloud logic.   But companies must be willing to flex more discernment around decisions  and  revaluate where vocationally appropriate, a more holistic view to longer term onboarding and training to achieve the 'long range prize' .

If you are in an industry where there are large numbers of highly skilled and culturally suitable candidates  banging down your doors you will have the luxury of being able to hire with  ease and rapid success.    BUT, if you are in an industry where there is a  candidate shortage you must ask if a quick fix hiring mindset will really be a great long term proposition?.   It’s not just a case of one or the other, but of taking a longer range view of ultimate success with greater wisdom.